Casas Immigration , Ltd.

Cracking the Code: How to Read and Use the Visa Bulletin

Cracking the Code: How to Read and Use the Visa Bulletin

Navigating the U.S. immigration system can be complex, but understanding the Visa Bulletin is a crucial step for many prospective immigrants. The Visa Bulletin, published monthly by the U.S.
Department of State, provides critical information about the availability of immigrant visas,
helping applicants determine when they can move forward in the immigration process. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you understand the Visa Bulletin and its implications for your
immigration journey.

What is the Visa Bulletin?

The Visa Bulletin is a monthly update that details the availability of immigrant visa numbers. It is essential for individuals seeking to obtain a green card through family-sponsored or employment-based categories. The bulletin includes several key elements:

  1. Priority Dates: The date when your immigration petition was filed. This date determines your place in the visa queue.
  2. Final Action Dates: The dates when visas can be issued and adjustments of status can be finalized.
  3. Dates for Filing: These dates allow applicants to submit their visa paperwork to the National Visa Center (NVC) in advance of their priority date becoming current.

Key Sections of the Visa Bulletin

  • Family-Sponsored Preferences:
  • Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens (spouses, parents, and unmarried children under 21) have visas available immediately and are not subject to numerical limits.
  • Other family-sponsored categories are subject to annual limits and country caps, which can create backlogs.
  • Employment-Based Preferences:
  • Divided into several categories (e.g., EB-1 for priority workers, EB-2 for advanced degree holders, EB-3 for skilled workers), each with its own numerical limits and backlogs.
  • Some categories are current for all countries, meaning there is no backlog, while others have specific cutoff dates depending on the country of charge-ability.

Understanding the Charts

The Visa Bulletin includes two main charts for each visa category:

  • Final Action Dates Chart:

    Indicates when visas can be issued and when applicants can adjust their status to permanent residency.

  • Dates for Filing Chart:

    Indicates when applicants can file their applications with the NVC to ensure all documentation is ready for processing when their priority date becomes current.

How to Use the Visa Bulletin

  1. Check Your Priority Date:
  • Find your priority date on your receipt notice or approval notice.
  • Compare it with the dates listed in the Visa Bulletin for your category and country.

2. Understanding the Charts:

  • The Final Action Dates chart tells you when your visa number is available.
  • The Dates for Filing chart lets you know when you can submit your application documents.

3. Stay Updated:

  • The Visa Bulletin is updated monthly, so regularly check for changes that may affect your application process.

Important Considerations

  • Country of Charge-ability: This usually refers to the country where the applicant was born. Each country has a cap on the number of visas issued per year to ensure diversity.
  • Retrogression: Occurs when the demand for visas in a particular category or country exceeds the supply, causing the dates to move backward. This can delay the processing of applications.
  • Cutoff Dates: These dates indicate the earliest priority date for which a visa number is available. They are determined based on the demand and supply for visas in each category and country.

The Visa Bulletin is an essential tool for immigrants seeking to understand their place in the visa process and to prepare for the next steps toward obtaining permanent residency in the United States. By regularly checking the Visa Bulletin and understanding its components, you can stay informed and proactive about your immigration journey.

For the most current and detailed information, always refer to the official USCIS website and the Department of State Visa Bulletin.

Call us today to schedule a consultation at (312) 971-7221